Myanmar junta blocking humanitarian aid for displaced people, NGOs say

Bangkok, Jun 4 (EFE).- Myanmar NGOs denounced Friday that the country’s military junta is blocking humanitarian aid destined for tens of thousands of people displaced by military attacks, including airstrikes and artillery fire.

This was expressed in a virtual press conference organized by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights in which they advocated for humanitarian aid be organized across the border to avoid the blockade.

Khin Ohmar, chairperson of the Advisory Board of NGO Progressive Voice, said there are some 150,000 civilians displaced in states and regions close to the borders such as Chin (northwest), Kayah (east) and Kayin (southeast) due to attacks by the military, which took the power on Feb. 1 in a coup.

She pointed out that the offensive against civilians is partly due to some rebel groups such as the Karen National Liberation Army in Kayin who have expressed their support for the pro-democracy movement against the junta.

Maw Day Myar, an activist with the Karenni National Women’s Organization in Kayah state, and Michael Suantak, director of Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities in Chin, noted that many displaced people are children, the elderly and women who do not have sufficient access to food, water or medicine.

NGOs denounced that the military has cut off access and even water supplies in some areas such as the city of Mindat in Chin.

In addition to intensifying fighting against ethnic guerrillas in the aftermath of the coup, the security forces also clash with defense groups made up of civilians opposed to the coup, leading to armed clashes in urban areas in Chin and Kayah.

The junta’s blockades also affect thousands displaced by fighting between soldiers and ethnic guerrillas in northern Shan and Kachin states.

One solution proposed by NGOs is for humanitarian aid to be organized across the borders, but for this they would need the acquiescence of neighboring governments such as Thailand, China and India.

The conflict between the military and the ethnic armed organizations dates back seven decades, but the violence has intensified after the military uprising.

The armed forces, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, have cracked down on protests against the coup and censored the media and the internet, although they have not managed to end the civil disobedience movement.

At least 845 people have died as a result of the crackdown against peaceful demonstrations, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, which also counted more than 4,500 detainees.

The military justifies the coup d’état alleging fraud in the November election, in which the party of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide, and which has the endorsement of international observers. EFE


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